1) What Are We Focusing Upon?
Why are we focusing on spending vast amounts of time and resources on saving human lives, with vaccines, while the human-induced sixth mass extinction of our planet is underway? It’s like being on a plane which is about to crash and asking the Flight attendant to fix the in-flight video streaming service that is buffering. . . It’s admirable, but it does not add up.
Why are we not spending this critical time and resources on restoring the biosphere? Working with nature, re-establishing biodiversity to save humanity. Biodiversity is the key to restoring carbon balance, using natures’ natural carbon storage systems - that we've plundered .
Thankfully, we now have ‘The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review’, a comprehensive international analysis and road map to recovery, led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, with the Forward by David Attenborough. It is a sobering read explaining the relationship between humans and nature, including the strain of the continued growth in the world population. On the positive side, it’s a user manual for humanity surviving on Earth, although it will be a last-minute solution. Assessing the 91 peer reviews of the 610-page report – the consensus is it’s an excellent road map for both economic recovery and restoration of the natural world. But, it is not a blueprint, as societies differ - what works for one, will not work for others. It's a collaborative path option, harnessing "empowered citizenship" and education.
“Today, we ourselves, together with the livestock we rear for food, constitute 96% of the mass of all mammals on the planet. Only 4% is everything else – from elephants to badgers, from moose to monkeys. And 70% of all birds alive at this moment are poultry – mostly chickens for us to eat. We are destroying biodiversity, the very characteristic that until recently enabled the natural world to flourish so abundantly. If we continue this damage, whole ecosystems will collapse. That is now a real risk. . . The Dasgupta Review, at last, puts biodiversity at its core and provides the compass that we urgently need. In doing so, it shows us how, by bringing economics and ecology together, we can help save the natural world at what may be the last minute – and in doing so, save ourselves.” [David Attenborough]
“The Review makes clear in no uncertain terms . . . we cannot rely on technology and human ingenuity alone, we need also to change our production and consumption patterns.”
“Nature-based Solutions have frequently been found to be more cost-effective than engineered solutions and have far fewer unexpected consequences. They also create employment”
“Ecological investments such as afforestation, parkland expansion and restoration of rural ecosystems should have high priority as part of COVID-19 recovery stimuli . . have pointed to three reasons for investing in such activities. First, training requirements are minimal for many ‘green’ projects, which means they can be implemented quickly. Second, the work meets social distancing norms. Third, many countries have blueprints of projects in existing mandates (e.g. in programmes designed to meet international agreements on climate change).”
“While these technologies have potential, they will only emerge if institutional changes provide incentives to develop and establish them on a large scale.”
“A general finding: neither top-down nor bottom-up institutional structures work well. What the inhabitant of an ecosystem knows and can observe differs from what an agent from the national government knows and can observe. Moreover, institutions that work well are neither entirely rigid nor entirely flexible; they are both ‘polycentric’ and ‘layered’, meaning that knowledge and perspectives at all levels from different organisations, communities and individuals are pooled and spread.”
“Investing in Nature is a reliable form of insurance.”
“Every child in every country is owed the teaching of natural history, to be introduced to the awe and wonder of the natural world, and to appreciate how it contributes to our lives.”
The emphasis of the report is understanding and seeking to work with the diversity of nature and societies. Mono agriculture and the strive towards uniformity of human cultures, causes friction and distress.
2) What Are We Spending On?
Would the £670 million (as of February 2021) spent and budgeted on the coronavirus be better spent improving biodiversity – helping avoid the plane crash? Given there were actual 50,100 excess deaths over 5 months in winter 2017/18 in the UK caused by respiratory diseases, and there was no controversy, no mass media coverage, masks or vaccinations. The UK population naturally recovered with herd immunity, as the Swedish have done with the coronavirus, without the need for vaccinations or closing down the economy. This does not add up either.
3) Should We Build or Grow Back Better?
In reading The Economics of Biodiversity report, I am left wondering whether the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset strap-line, ‘Build Back Better’ would be more aptly called ‘Grow Back Better’, as advocated by Soil Association? Although reviewing the World Economic Forums ‘Great Reset’ detailed interactive 'Transformation Maps' [you don’t have to register or log in, just click on the video panels of interest and drill down] in particular the 'Climate Change Map' there is no reference to biodiversity or biosphere at all. The strategy is favouring technological (vaccines and 4th Industrial Revolution – including 5G) as their principal strategy rather than working with nature-based solutions, as advocated by the ‘The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review’.
The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review February 2021
The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review – (91) Peer Review Reactions February 2021
Correct economic reasoning is entangled with our values. Biodiversity does not only have instrumental value, it also has existence and intrinsic value, perhaps even moral worth. Each of these senses is enriched when we recognise that we are embedded in Nature. To detach Nature from economic reasoning is to imply that we consider ourselves to be external to Nature. The fault is not in economics; it lies in the way we have chosen to practise it. [Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta]